§ 3.21 p.m.
§ The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham)
My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.
§ Moved, on behalf of the Committee of Selection, That the Lord Sefton of Garston be appointed to the Select Committee in the place of the Lord Stoddart of Swindon, resigned.—(The Chairman of Committees.)
§ Baroness White
My Lords, before the House accedes to the request of the Chairman of Committees, will the noble Lord kindly explain why, when the Select Committee on Relations between Central and Local Government is officially recorded as being concerned with Great Britain as a whole, there is no member of the committee who has any adequate knowledge of the difficulties which continue to occur, admittedly less frequently than heretofore, between the Welsh Office 1113 and Welsh local authorities? I refer not only to the direct local government reorganisation and all that that entails, but also to the Welsh Office's proposals for other public agencies such as the fire services.
§ The Chairman of Committees
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady White, for giving me notice in advance that she proposed to raise this matter. For fear of transgressing the rules of order of your Lordships' House, I should perhaps indicate in a preliminary way that that more general point does not, strictly speaking, arise out of this particular Motion. However, I do not want to be unhelpful to the noble Baroness.
Before your Lordships remind me, I should perhaps remind the House that only last Thursday afternoon your Lordships passed a Motion, without any question being raised, approving the names of the members of this Select Committee. That was done after the customary consultations had taken place.
On the subject of the membership of the Select Committee, your Lordships will appreciate from their names that the members have wide experience and considerable qualifications. I have no doubt that they will be perfectly capable of hearing and assessing any evidence which is given to them by people, bodies and local authorities in the Principality. Perhaps I can give some comfort to the noble Baroness, Lady White, by pointing out that one of the members of the Select Committee, Lady Platt of Writtle, is an honorary Fellow of the Polytechnic of Wales. Therefore, I do not think that Wales will be overlooked.
However, perhaps I may say to the noble Baroness that I do not know whether there is scope for further consideration being given to the issue. I should like to look into that matter. I hope that the noble Baroness will forgive me if I do not make any promise this afternoon. After all, I cannot commit your Lordships in advance.
§ Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos
My Lords, we are grateful to the noble Lord for his reply to my noble friend. However, is he aware, and is the House aware, that there is a strong feeling in Wales that when Select Committees are appointed which affect the whole of England and Wales there should be a Welsh representative?
§ The Chairman of Committees
My Lords, with his extensive ministerial experience, the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, will know that one does not come to one of the Dispatch Boxes of your Lordships' House without some prior briefing. I do not know whether I should reveal to your Lordships—but perhaps I shall take the opportunity to do so—that I was briefed that that question might be raised. My immediate response was to say that if the matter was raised it was likely to be raised by the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, with his experience. I say to the noble Lord that the observations that I made in reply to his noble friend Lady White will, of course, be taken into account in that same context.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.